Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Review of Juno

Well, I was going to post this on Reviews N Stuff, but that satellite of Well Rounded Nerds seems to have gone away for the time being. I'll repost this over there, once it comes back up.

I read somewhere on CHUD that Juno is the movie that Little Miss Sunshine really wanted to be. It's earnest, clever, funny and authentically emotional in the same way that LMS was but Ellen Page1 pulls off something that everyone in LMS wasn't quite able to do, except maybe Allen Arkin. If LMS had come out this summer, it would have had Michael Cera in it, too. In case you've been living in Tora Bora and been too busy YouTubing yourself, Juno is a story about a stupendously hip high school girl who gets all with child.

The dialogue is snappy, slick, funny and trendy, almost too trendy. The first five minutes of the film worried me because everything the people were saying was a perfect example of cool for the Oughts. Listening to this was like watching The Breakfast Club for the first time again and thinking, "Damn, I don't think I'll ever be able to say any of this and I'm okay with that." I think Diablo Cody went to the same high school as Happy Harry Hard-On in Pump Up the Volume and has lived in every cool kid movie since. Or maybe she only ever hangs out with people who say "wizard" and "boss" ironically so often that they've gone from being ironic to being moronic. It's funny how one little phoneme can make all the difference.

Despite this grating early segment2, Juno quickly moves into funny and emotional scenes that never stoop to hystrionics or cheap jokes. Juno's matter of fact style was a little odd and at times she seemed more like a 27 year-old hipster than a 17 year-old student but it worked anyway. The scenes with her family were foundation enough for this character that the rest of the movie felt genuine. I particularly enjoyed the transformation of Jennifer Garner's character.

J.K. Simmons was damn convincing in some ways but I was surprised that he wasn't angry at any point. Maybe that would have been a little too trope-y but the uber-understanding father is the new thing with which generations of writers are familiar. Maybe this is some sort of generational thing with fathers, one generation is permanently pissed, the next is absent, the following is supportive and then the next is cybergenic. Michael Cera was essentially window dressing except for a couple scenes but the movie isn't titled "Bleeker." Jason Bateman was just right.

I think movies like Juno both hit and miss when you watch them and think, "Shit, everyone is cool and supportive or loving and generally awesome that I would love to be a pregnant teenager in this world!" It is fun to watch and you don't feel pandered to but it's a little too much better than life could ever be. Maybe that's the point though. A scene featuring some couples auditioning for the baby would probably have sunk deep into cheap laugh territory and an angry dad scene would not have fit with the rest of that character's scenes.

If I had managed to get this posted back in December when I saw the movie, I'd be telling you to go see it before your cool friends tell you to go see it.

1 Honestly? I'm still frightened of Ellen Page after Hard Candy.

2 What the fuck is up with Rainn Wilson? Is he her friend or buddy or something? Who the fuck talks like that to some random teenagers at the corner store? I guess they were friends or something before but it makes no sense and you never see him again and feels like some producer was like "I COMMAND THAT YOU MAKE ME LAUGH MORE. BRING IN SOMEONE FROM THE OFFICE OR SOMETHING."

10 comments:

Adorable Girlfriend said...

You pretty much summarized my thoughts. I liked it, despite the 27-year-old humor that really couldn't come from a 17-year-old.

The Uncanncy Canadian said...

I guess I should have posted about Juno when I saw the free sneak preview in mid-December (thanx to AG). I totally agree with your review as well. I think you nailed all the points that I would. Rainn Wilson was there solely to add one more good joke into the trailer. If you noticed, every good joke was in the trailer - one of my pet peeves. I'm also willing to bet that he is in at least one other season that ended up getting edited out. Look for bonus features on the DVD. You have to admit that he is a very funny guy.

The Uncanny Canadian said...

Oh, I love having the new identity options - finally I can have the direct link to 3Bulls! back. Awesome.

Chuckles said...

Yeah.

I liked it but it had some things I found a little odd. I don't want anyone to think I am part of the coming backlash against Diablo Cody and her movie because of any sort of selling out comments. Shit, if I had the chance to make movies I would sell out faster than you can yell 'sell out' in a crowded theater. That is the entire point of this industry. I am not critiquing Juno because of that, I am critiquing the movie on it's strengths and weaknesses.

Adorable Girlfriend said...

Fridge Note: I heart you, Schmoopies! I cannot wait to see you on Friday and go for a nice dinner and spend time together.

Chuckles said...

AG, send him an email, shit. You got your relationship all over my blog!

Adorable Girlfriend said...

Jealous much?!

P.S. Schmoopies, will you stick it in on Friday night?!!!!!

Take that, Fuckles!

The Uncanny Canadian said...

Fine, I'll clean my ears out, but you know how much I hate Q-tips

Adorable Girlfriend said...

Diss.

Q-tips do not work for you, Schmoopies. We were just discussing your Asian genes on Meebo last night.

Geesh.

Chuckles said...

Have you two ever watched the British show Coupling? AG is totally Jane from that show but wants so desperately to be Susan.